KOTA KINABALU: A Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) researcher has received the Japan Foreign Minister’s Commendation Award earlier this week, for his continuous efforts in promoting education and research collaboration between the two countries.

Prof. Dr. Charles S. Vairappan, from the university’s Tropical Biology and Conservation Institute, received the recognition from the head of the Japan Consular Office in Kota Kinabalu, Shiho Kako during a ceremony on Tuesday (Nov 23).

The annual awards is to honour individuals who have made tremendous contributions to promote friendship between Japan and other nations.

The academician has been involved in joint collaborations with Japanese research institutions through the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) project, as well as Third Country Training Programme (TCTP) involving biodiversity conservation training in Sabah, according to a statement from UMS on Thursday (Nov 25).

Vairappan obtained his PhD from the Graduate School of Environmental Earth Science at Hokkaido University in 2001, the Japanese Embassy in Malaysia official Facebook page posted when congratulating him.

“With Vairappan’s continuous endeavors to promote two-way collaborations during his academic years, he is the best example to the successful implementation of the ‘look east policy’, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary next year.

“The Embassy of Japan expects his continuous contribution to cement our good bilateral relationship,” it said in the post.

Meanwhile, UMS vice chancellor Profesor Datuk Taufiq Yap Yun Hin during the award ceremony held at the Japan Consular office here, said the recognition brought a special meaning to the university.

UMS, he added, has been involved in various conservation activities supported by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since 20 years ago.

He said in recent years, there was an increase of Japanese researchers interacting with academicians and undergraduates of UMS through researches, webinars and student exchange programmes, which also saw the participation of Vairappan.

Taufiq expressed UMS’ commitment to continue the two-way cooperation with Japan, and also hoped that Vairappan’s sabbatical period to Tokyo University soon will open more paths for academicians and students from both countries to interact and understand each other.

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